Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fourth annual list of 'Spookiest Places in Conecuh County' released

Old Evergreen Hotel in downtown Evergreen, Ala.
Halloween is less than two weeks away, and in the spirit of that ghostly holiday, I present to you today my fourth annual list of the “Spookiest Places in Conecuh County.”

As with previous editions of this list, I compiled it after discussing the subject with a number of the county’s lifelong residents and individuals well versed in the county’s long history. Without further ado, here’s the list:

· Conecuh County Department of Human Resources Building: Built on the site of the county’s old poor house, convict farm and a former World War II German prisoner of war camp, DHR workers claim to hear the sound of unexplained footsteps in the halls, especially in the building’s north wing, late in the day and after hours. Other employees have had their hair “blown back” by unexplained forces, and others claim to have seen the ghost of a “lady in a long, drab skirt.” Others claim to have seen the ghosts of “women walking with laundry” and the unexplained sounds of “clanking dishes.” The building is also constructed adjacent to a number of graves that date back to the property’s use as a POW camp, poorhouse and convict farm.

· Conecuh County High School Building: Former teachers at this Castleberry school claim to have heard, after school hours, the unexplained sound of running footsteps in the building’s attic - when it was known that no one else was in the building. Built in 1936, this building now houses the Conecuh County Junior High School.

· Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library: Staff members at the library have had a number of unusual experiences in the building, which is located on Cemetery Avenue in Evergreen. Unusual occurrences at the building include unexplained temperature drops, thumping noises and the sound of someone coming up the stairs when no one is there. Staff members have also found lights on that should have been off and books “turned topsy-turvy” or misplaced on shelves as well as items on the floor, even though things had been in their proper place when they closed the building the day before. Other library workers claim to have seen a ghost outside on the library grounds. They describe this ghost as a young girl, wearing what looks like turn-of-the-century clothing and riding breeches, standing next to a phantom horse. The girl has her arm draped around the horse’s neck, witnesses said.

· The Evergreen Courant Office: Located in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Evergreen, unexplained noises can be heard during the day and after hours. Long time employees at The Courant jokingly say that the noises are just former employees who don’t know that they’ve passed their final “deadline.”

· First Evergreen Cemetery: Small cemetery located in Evergreen, just off Main Street, adjacent to old Evergreen High School property. Contains some of the city’s earliest graves, including three unusual-looking unmarked vaults made with handmade bricks.

· Hawthorne House Site: This residence, which was located in Belleville and burned down in 2003, was used as a hospital for individuals injured in a train collision in October 1862 and as a hospital for Confederate soldiers hurt near the end of the Civil War. Many in the Belleville community believed that the Hawthorne House held the lingering spirits of countless Confederate souls. Lights, televisions and other modern conveniences in the home would often malfunction for no apparent reasons.

· Interstate 65: The 40-mile stretch of the interstate between Evergreen and Greenville was designated “The Haunted Highway” in the book, “Haunted Places: The National Directory” by Dennis William Hauck. Book claims that this section of highway is haunted by the spirits of displaced Creek Indians and has resulted in an “accident rate that is well above average.”

· King’s Crossing: This railroad crossing, located at the intersection of West Front Street and Belleville Street in downtown Evergreen, has been the site of countless accidents and deaths during the past century. At one time considered the most dangerous railroad crossing in Alabama and one of the most deadly in America, Evergreen Mayor Pete Wolff told The Mobile Press-Register that the crossing was “almost like a ghost crossing. It just invites people to run into trains, and not only do they pull in front of them, they even run into them from the side sometimes. We’ve had people that walked on the tracks and been run over. Sometimes a train will come and you can’t hear it. There’s just something weird about it.”

· Monster Road: The traditional nickname of what was also called the Hagood Road, which once connected Conecuh County Road 29 and Brooklyn Road, southeast of Evergreen. I asked a number of people about how the road came to be called Monster Road, but no one could say with any certainty. In May 2012, the Conecuh County Commission officially closed a portion of this road, three miles north of its intersection with Conecuh County Road 29.

· Old Beulah Cemetery: One of the county’s oldest cemeteries, which contains a number of old fashioned headstones and monuments. The cemetery is located near the intersection of Hagood Road and County Road 29, southeast of Evergreen.

· Old Carter Hospital: Located on Burnt Corn Street in Repton, this was once the only hospital for a hundred miles in every direction. Closed in the mid-1950s, when Monroe County Hospital opened in Monroeville, this structure has seen more than its fair share of pain, sickness and death.

· Old Castleberry Bank Building: Located in downtown Castleberry at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and West Railroad Street, this building is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former bank president who committed suicide there during the Great Depression. A former employee who worked there in the 1980s said that she and fellow coworkers would hear a man’s voice even when there were no men in the building and would often catch an unexplainable whiff of cigar smoke. Objects inside the bank would also get moved around overnight while the bank was empty, employees said.

· Old Evergreen Hotel: This two-story building located at the corner of East Front Street and Mill Street in downtown Evergreen was once a thriving hotel that received thousands of visitors in its heyday thanks to railroad passengers passing through Conecuh County. The hotel has been closed for decades and not it’s completely boarded up, but many Evergreen residents have reported hearing unusual noises from inside the building when they walk past at night. “You can almost feel the chill as you pass,” one longtime resident said.

· Old L&N Train Depot: Located in downtown Evergreen and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this building is over 100 years old. Thousands of people passed through this train station during its heyday, and former employees have shared tales about hearing unexplained noises in the building at all times of the day and night.

· Old Sparta Site: According to “Shadows and Dust, Volume II” by Kevin McKinley, this is the location of a haunted well. The story goes that whispers can be heard coming from the well, which may have been constructed near the burial grounds of some long since removed Indian tribe.

· Sanders Cave: Large cave located about 3-1/2 miles northwest of Brooklyn. According to the June 1, 1967 edition of The Brewton Standard, it’s believed that Joseph Thompson Hare’s gang of robbers buried gold in the cave. Hare’s gang, which was organized in New Orleans in 1801, robbed overland travelers from New Orleans to Pensacola. Hare was eventually hanged in Baltimore in 1818 for robbing a U.S. Mail coach.

Other nominees for the list have included the Baggett Cemetery in Castleberry, the old Civil Air Patrol Building in Evergreen, the Hampden Ridge Cemetery near Old Fort Autrey, the Old Huggins Grist Mill site at Cohassett, the old Price Hotel-Stagecoach Stop at Owassa, the Old Pritchett Home in Evergreen, the old Ray Brothers Store site near Travis Bridge, the Old Red Wine Bridge near Castleberry and the Old Ward Plantation.

Before I close this thing out, I want to make perfectly clear that more than a few of these places are more than likely located on private property, so if you get the idea to visit any of these places (especially at night) you’d better get permission first or run the risk of trespassing. Also, if you plan to visit any of these places, especially cemeteries, respect your surroundings.

In the end, get up with me if you know a good local ghost story or have information about a spooky location in Conecuh County. You can reach me by calling 578-1492, by e-mail at or by mail at The Evergreen Courant, ATTN: Lee Peacock, P.O. Box 440, Evergreen, AL 36401.

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